Bone Marrow Transplantation

What is Bone Marrow Transplantation?

Bone Marrow Transplantation is a procedure, where healthy stem cells are transplanted into a patient’s body after appropriate treatment. Healthy stem cells can be collected from the patient, when he becomes diseases free after treatment. They can also be collected from fully / half HLA matched family donor, unrelated donor and cord blood. Stored stem cells of the patient / donor / cord blood are transfused into patient’s blood stream, quite similar to blood transfusion.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are the most primitive cells which can differentiate into various other dedicated cells, such as nerve cells, bone cells, liver cells, blood cells etc. The most primitive stem cell gets committed to organ-specific stem cells and thus forms either blood stem cells or nerve stem cells.

What are the sources of Blood Stem Cells?

Bone Marrow : The spongy material inside large bones of adults and all bones of children is called bone marrow, which is a normal reserve for blood stem cells. Depending on body’s requirement, stem cells can produce desired number of Red blood cells, white blood cells and Platelets. When a patient needs blood stem cells, they can be collected from healthy donor’s hip bones under anesthesia.

Peripheral Blood : Normally, there is only an occasional blood stem cell in our circulation. However, when a blood growth factor (G-CSF) is injected, it stimulates the committed stem cells from the bone marrow to spill over in the circulation. If we count the number of blood stem cells after 3 doses of G-CSF daily, this would have increased by several hundred times. This is called mobilization of stem cells into peripheral blood. At this time, we can collect and concentrate these stem cells from the blood itself by a machine called cell separator, without the use of anesthesia.

Umbilical Cord Blood : Placenta along with the umbilical cord are waste products of pregnancy. However, in the mid-1980s, it was found that an amazingly high concentration of stem cells was present in the cord blood, which is discarded. Since the efforts have been made to collect and store cord blood units from random pregnancies and also directed collections from further childbirth in an affected family where BMT is found necessary.